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Breanna Stewart ready ‘to be the best player in the world again’ after Achilles injury

After her return to the floor last week, Breanna Stewart is more than ready to reclaim her spot atop the basketball world. (AP/Wade Payne)

Breanna Stewart is finally back to playing basketball again, more than nine months after the former WNBA MVP ruptured her Achilles in the EuroLeague championship game last April.

Yet the Seattle Storm star isn’t content just being out on the court. She’s ready to get back to where she once was: Firmly atop the basketball world.

“I want to be the best player in the world again,” Stewart said this week, via The Athletic. “At first, it was all about the get back. I’ve done so much, but I can do so much more. That’s what’s motivating me. When I’m out on the court, I want to dominate. My skill set allows me to do a lot of things.”

Stewart, while playing with Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague championship game, landed on Brittney Griner’s foot near the end of the first half and went crashing to the floor, immediately grabbing her right ankle in pain. Stewart confirmed the ruptured Achilles tendon days later and quickly underwent surgery — which forced her to miss the entire 2019 WNBA season. 

While none of her rehab was easy, Stewart said the first few months were the roughest. 

The thing she missed the most was simply the ability to walk.

“What I learned is you don’t realize how much you appreciate walking,” Stewart said, via The Athletic. “The beginning was tough because you don’t know why, you never understand why. When all you can do is sit in a cast and look at your cast, you’re like, ‘Well how did I get here?’ 

“I was at my highest high, in a great space, to my lowest low. I couldn’t believe this happened.”

Stewart, though, returned to the court last week with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team for their exhibition against Connecticut, her alma mater. The 25-year-old played just 17 minutes in the win, drilled her first shot attempt of the game from behind the arc. She played again days later in their exhibition against Louisville, dropping seven points.

Though they weren’t perfect outings for Stewart — who averaged 21.8 points and 8.4 rebounds while leading the Storm to a WNBA title in 2018 — she is on her way.

“I thought it was a great day for [Stewart] in terms of the first step, the next step in her  process,” Team USA and Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after the game, via the Hartford Courant. “Next time we see her on the practice floor, she’ll grow a little bit, and next time we play a game, we expect her to be even better.”

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